Starting the show day off with mimosas and a toast to friends, horses, and our instructor is pretty cool, too.
I rode the Introductory Level tests A and B, and while I was not totally thrilled with my performance, it wasn't bad. I did better earlier in the week in my lessons and practices. I was slightly nervous, but not horribly so, and it was nice to ride in my "home" ring. Easier still, my instructor called the tests for me, so I really didn't have to remember them myself. I had hoped for better than low 60's scores, mostly because I know I am riding a pony with really good skills, and I felt a bit of pressure to at least ride her as well as her owner does, but I just didn't get there this time. One of my very favorite things about dressage, though, is that you actually get a score for your efforts, and while the judge may change at each show you ride in, you can gauge your progress by your test scores. I love me some data. And I always like getting a ribbon or two.
Travis took pictures, which makes me happy, and also makes me sad. I never, ever look in photographs like what I think look like in my own head. Somehow, my own image surprises me every time. "Really?? Do I really look like that??" Of course, event and dressage riders can all agree that the requisite white breeches for showing never do anyone any favors, and especially not the much-bigger-than-a-stick people. And I've had three kids, and I'm well over forty, and that belly pooch is just. not. going. away. But in the pictures, I look too chunky for that pony, even though everyone assures me I am not.
"Does this pony make my ass look big??"
I can't focus on the lovely straight line from the bit to my elbow, or my upright, balanced position, I only see all the pudge below my ribcage, and my dancer's turned-out toes, and the boots whose tops are way too wide for my muscular, but hefty, calves.
I can ride her well, I know I do, I trust my instructor and Destiny's owner not to lie to me -- they have no reason to. And there has been an unexpected benefit to the shorter, smaller equine -- my left hip (that has been killing me off and on since last summer) has bothered me hardly at all since I started riding her only eight weeks ago, and even though I have worked hard at lessons and on my position, I have been sore, but not crippled, afterward. A benefit and a relief.
A couple of days ago, I was saying to myself that even though I weigh more than I'd like, I felt strong and capable while riding this horse, I felt like I was getting the job done most of the time, and definitely had improved my balance and my position in the past two months. I can tell -- she's more responsive and smoother to ride, and I'm beginning to have control over aspects of the ride that I didn't before. I tried to convince myself that I preferred strong and slightly bigger,but gets the job done, to thin and incapable, but really I just wish I could still look like this:
The annoying part is I remember how much I hated myself then for not being thin enough. At seventeen years old, 5' 2" and 115 pounds, I thought I was grotesquely fat for a dancer. It was a constant battle, and I don't remember ever thinking I was good enough or thin enough. Ugh, SO much wasted emotional energy over something that was so ridiculous!! I hate that there are still remnants of that thought process left in my brain, almost thirty years later, and I know it's still ridiculous. I'll get over myself, eventually. I love to ride, so I'm certainly not going to stop doing that just because I think I'm a mess. My family thinks I'm beautiful, and that matters quite a lot.
I wish I could go and ride today, but Wren is shooting in an archery tournament this afternoon, and that takes precedence. If I focus at work, I might be able to sneak four rides in this week, which would be fantastic. I know from my test comments yesterday that I have a good bit to work on, and so I will. Bend, rhythm, straightness...the basics.
And I'm shopping for better-fitting white breeches and a black show coat.